4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Never the same spirit twice

Small batch liquors that show what they're made of

Geoff Longenecker makes small batch spirits at his distillery and tasting room in Miramar.
Geoff Longenecker makes small batch spirits at his distillery and tasting room in Miramar.

When I walk into the Miramar warehouse home of Seven Cave Spirits, I find owner and distiller Geoff Longenecker celebrating a Eureka moment. After much experimenting, he’d just figured out a new method he will use to infuse pineapple into a summer gin he’s making special for the cocktail artists at Little Italy restaurant Kettner Exchange.

It’s not an unusual moment for the craft distiller, who first began making liquor here two years ago, and approaches every distillation as an opportunity to explore different ingredients, methods, and possible outcomes. “I don’t make products in here,” Longenecker states, meaning flagship products. “I make batches.”

In this batch of gin, he’s distilling a sugar wash that most distillers would use as a base to make rum. “I start with a faint idea of what rum is,” he explains, “then strip that down, and add juniper, and in this case tropical ingredients, and build a gin out of it.”

On another day, with another fruit to consider, he might produce a totally different batch. Lining the walls are dozens of oak barrels, each filled with a unique liquid. There are rye whiskeys, bourbons, wheated bourbons, agave spirits, and a trio of barrels aging the same rum distillate, but in different proof levels, if only to see how potency affects the end product.

When the longtime attorney and homebrewer launched Seven Caves, he did so with a pantry of ingredients, different grains, sugars, and yeasts he might use to construct a unique base alcohol for each new batch.

Usually, he finds inspiration in the ingredients themselves. As we speak, he pulls two jars of sugar off a shelf. Both were processes the same way, at the same Louisiana source, but they’re not identical. “They come in different times of the year, and they’re different,” he tells me.

Sure enough, thanks to the relative unpredictability of agricultural products, one smells of dark fruit, while the other has more a floral character. Longenecker complemented each sugar with a different strain of yeast, yielding entirely different rums in the process. Rather than try to force the same results, he tries to play to each ingredient’s strengths.

“It’s no different than getting strawberries early in the season, versus the end of the season,” he notes, “Why should I demand uniformity in something that changes?”

Longenecker’s a bourbon man at heart, and has amassed a 300 bottle whiskey collection at home. Soon enough, he’ll issue his first bottles of grain liquor, as well as agave spirits. Thus far, his limited bottle releases have included a handful of gins and about ten distinct rums, none of them quite like the others.

In fact, he says, “My rums are very different than what is on the market.” Seven Cave's rums are all barrel aged, none are spiced. They’re made less to match anyone’s expectation of rum, and more to pursue what rum could taste like, outside of the world of mass production.

“I’m not going to compete against Bacardi and Diplomático [rum brands], and their million dollar ad budgets,” Longenecker concedes, “But I can compete on flavor. And I try.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Blue Line trolley to Nobel Drive to Poki One N Half

This is the start of a whole new way to see the county
Next Article

San Diego roads that have disappeared, vanished movie palaces

The 1972 ITT scandal covered up, Roscoe Hazard's photos of hangings, Kevin Starr sanitizes San Diego history, the sad fig tree on Grape Street
Geoff Longenecker makes small batch spirits at his distillery and tasting room in Miramar.
Geoff Longenecker makes small batch spirits at his distillery and tasting room in Miramar.

When I walk into the Miramar warehouse home of Seven Cave Spirits, I find owner and distiller Geoff Longenecker celebrating a Eureka moment. After much experimenting, he’d just figured out a new method he will use to infuse pineapple into a summer gin he’s making special for the cocktail artists at Little Italy restaurant Kettner Exchange.

It’s not an unusual moment for the craft distiller, who first began making liquor here two years ago, and approaches every distillation as an opportunity to explore different ingredients, methods, and possible outcomes. “I don’t make products in here,” Longenecker states, meaning flagship products. “I make batches.”

In this batch of gin, he’s distilling a sugar wash that most distillers would use as a base to make rum. “I start with a faint idea of what rum is,” he explains, “then strip that down, and add juniper, and in this case tropical ingredients, and build a gin out of it.”

On another day, with another fruit to consider, he might produce a totally different batch. Lining the walls are dozens of oak barrels, each filled with a unique liquid. There are rye whiskeys, bourbons, wheated bourbons, agave spirits, and a trio of barrels aging the same rum distillate, but in different proof levels, if only to see how potency affects the end product.

When the longtime attorney and homebrewer launched Seven Caves, he did so with a pantry of ingredients, different grains, sugars, and yeasts he might use to construct a unique base alcohol for each new batch.

Usually, he finds inspiration in the ingredients themselves. As we speak, he pulls two jars of sugar off a shelf. Both were processes the same way, at the same Louisiana source, but they’re not identical. “They come in different times of the year, and they’re different,” he tells me.

Sure enough, thanks to the relative unpredictability of agricultural products, one smells of dark fruit, while the other has more a floral character. Longenecker complemented each sugar with a different strain of yeast, yielding entirely different rums in the process. Rather than try to force the same results, he tries to play to each ingredient’s strengths.

“It’s no different than getting strawberries early in the season, versus the end of the season,” he notes, “Why should I demand uniformity in something that changes?”

Longenecker’s a bourbon man at heart, and has amassed a 300 bottle whiskey collection at home. Soon enough, he’ll issue his first bottles of grain liquor, as well as agave spirits. Thus far, his limited bottle releases have included a handful of gins and about ten distinct rums, none of them quite like the others.

In fact, he says, “My rums are very different than what is on the market.” Seven Cave's rums are all barrel aged, none are spiced. They’re made less to match anyone’s expectation of rum, and more to pursue what rum could taste like, outside of the world of mass production.

“I’m not going to compete against Bacardi and Diplomático [rum brands], and their million dollar ad budgets,” Longenecker concedes, “But I can compete on flavor. And I try.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Half-baked tracks with organic music quality

Local Natives, Nicey Nice World, Sully Band, Deaf Club, Steve Poltz
Next Article

2-D transfers of 3-D Rarities

Genres covered include sci-fi, westerns, cartoons, musicals, and an A-Bomb scare film, along with other assorted documentaries.
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close